Scientists are warning the medical community that porcine deltacoronavirus (PDC), a new virus usually witnessed in pigs, may put humans at risk. Researchers from Ohio State University and Utrecht University In the Netherlands collaborated on the project, which studied the organism closely in a laboratory to evaluate its behavior in various scenarios.
• Scientists first exposed the virus to pig cells. Then, they ran the same exposure tests on human tissue cells instead. Porcine deltacoronavirus organisms appeared to survive and thrive in the presence of human tissues.
• It isn’t yet clear if the findings prove the virus is harmful to us in any way. It’s feasible that humans are simply carriers or the virus is hardy enough to survive in the body for a short period of time.
• In pigs, infection with the deltacoronavirus mimics symptoms of other illnesses like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). It also impacts the gastrointestinal tract, causing vomiting and diarrhea.
• PDC may also share zoonosis with other animals, including chickens and cats. Researchers were able to successfully demonstrate replication in both animals at the same time. However, it isn’t clear if that means chickens and cats also pose a risk to humans.
• Coronaviruses are incredibly common in our world. Statistics reflect that most have a significantly higher chance of transferring to humans from animals than other viruses when looking at historical trends.
• Although this particular organism is new, researchers have identified outbreaks in the past. This includes at least one diagnosis in China, circa 2012, and a second event in the United States, circa 2014.
• The original event (“patient zero”) in China confused researchers because infected pigs showed virtually no symptoms of disease. Later diagnoses on U.S. soil, did. American pigs vomited, had diarrhea, and were very obviously “diseased” – including at least a few fatalities.